Thursday, February 26, 2015

Product review: MT-201UK Two-Port USB KVM Switch

KVM switches vary greatly in quality and in price.  The MT-201UK two-port USB KVM switch is one of the cheapest switches you can find, and its performance matches its price tag.

The switch makes a good first impression.  It's small, smaller than a typical paperback book, and it's very easy to set up.  It comes with its own VGA/USB cables for connecting two computers together to the switch.  The cables should be sufficiently long for most desktop setups.  There are three empty USB ports that you can use for your mouse, keyboard, or other peripheral.  (Note that if your mouse or keyboard uses a PS/2 connector, you won't be able to use it with this switch.)

Once you've got all the cables connected, using the switch is as easy as pressing the big gray button.  A red LED lights up on either side of the button to let you know which computer is currently active.  When you press the button to switch displays, it only takes a few seconds to make the other computer fully active.

For around ten bucks, the switch sounds pretty good so far.  But its positive features end there.

"USB 2.0" is printed right on the switch's face, so you'd think it would run well and not impede your desktop's performance.  But I constantly found the switch slowing my mouse down to the point where the pointer would freeze up for a couple of seconds before slowly dragging a little farther across the screen.  This temporary lag would last ten seconds or so, then everything would run well for a while, until it happened again.

The mouse that I used with this switch was a Dynex wireless mouse, which I'd used on both computers many times before the switch was installed and never encountered a problem.  I also found that I would often have to repeat-click on something to get the computer to recognize that I clicked on it, because the first (or sometimes even second) time, nothing happened.

The first day I set up this switch, it worked fine for a while and then suddenly the USB ports stopped responding.  I plugged the mouse and keyboard variably into all three ports, but couldn't get either of them to work.  Every time I plugged the mouse receiver into a port, the active computer would switch as if I had pressed the switch's button.  Rebooting both computers resolved this problem, and it hasn't recurred since.

When the computer hooked into the left side of the switch is active, the display will go black every now and then for a couple of seconds.  The screen will reappear, then go black again, then reappear.  This happens several times an hour, but only on whichever computer is hooked into that side.

If a few inconsistencies don't bother you, and you don't need a switch that performs optimally, then you might want to consider this switch.  (It's currently only $10.51 on Amazon.)  But if you get frustrated easily or you can't afford the wait times and hassles that this switch could potentially create, then you might want to consider buying a slightly pricier switch made by a reputable brand.

(Originally published on, June 2011)

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